The Ethnography Department of the Cris County Museum beholds a patrimony of 20.693 items from five ethnographical regions of the western Romania. Crasna-Barcău, Crişul Repede, Beiuş, Tinca-Salonta, Crişul Alb organized in six collections: wood and metal, ceramics, traditional clothing, textiles, icons and cult items, painted eggs. The ethnographic regions and collections are placed in independent sectors in the basic collection or in the department’s storehouses.
In the wood and metal collection, the countryside furniture has both scientific and artistic value; especially the chairs with anthropomorphic swordsmen from Beiuş region, the benches with swordsmen decorated with fretwork, notch or incision, similar to those fabricated in Sitani by Pomezău, dowry cases from centers with considerably long tradition which delivered such products to many regions, like that from Budureasa, where even in our days cases having a decorative nature or barns made of beech wood, are being produced, through antique techniques, and others of great artistic value, as those from Preuteasa (Sălaj county), Nadăs (Arad county), Vîrciog and Călăţea (Bihor county); tables with cases and simple tables, dish and spoon supports, objects with concrete utility and decorative values of the traditional interior design from Crisu County. The wood collection also contains a large range of household tools (those related to textile industry – scutches, reels, tow brushes, distaffs, weaving looms etc. – and those related to cooking, preserving food and serving the table – trucks, sieves, spoons and ladles, dishes, milk vessels, salt containers etc.), most of them are of incontestable artistic values.
The ceramics collection contains utilitarian pieces – vessels of multiple use in various shapes and dimensions, from jars and vessels for babies, to pots for funeral feasts or mugs designated to store hemp seeds or cereals, decorated with many motives from ancient traditions, terra-cotta, decorative vessels, like the dishes which adorn the interior walls and function as supports for exhibited textiles, others having a ritual nature (small pots and toys).
These collection contains pots made of red ceramics, fabricated in Beiuş region (Leheceni, Sălişte de Vaşcău, Cărpinet, Criştior de Jos, Leleşti, Valea Neagră de Jos) showing a great stylistic unity, those from the Crişu Alb river (Tîrnaviţa, Hălmăgel, Bîrsa, Ineu), from Salonta and Oradea, Marghita and Şimleul Silvaniei, as well as vessels made of white ceramics, fabricated for centuries in Vadu Crişului, which has been exported to large regions from Hungarian lowland and ware known in the 18th century as Romanian ceramics. The collection of ceramics of the Criş County Museum contains enameled ceramics as well as not enameled ceramics; both categories are decorated in relief with geometrical, solar or vegetal motives. Generally, the ceramics from Criş regions are characterized by a higher degree of rusticity, by the balance between the shapes and decorations – in other words, by the fact that they resisted the temptation of modernization. We should also mention that some of the centers represented in our collections are still active and may be purchased by visiting tourists.
Traditional clothing of the region is still preserved in dowry cases of the habitants of Bihor villages – real patrimony stores in miniature, they are part of a larger category of Transylvanian traditional clothing. The clothing is very well represented in our collection by entire suits, which represent the ethnographic regions by age groups (for example we have girls suits, wife costumes and old ladies dresses) and ethnical groups (Romanian, Hungarian, German, Slovakian and other suits), or by separated pieces, relevant for the techniques of confection, decoration and the type of cut. Very interesting for their expressiveness are the peasant coats made by local masters or by famous peasant coats artisans form Sîrbesti village (Bihor) who were working during the winters at the clients’ residences, fabricating pieces for villages from highlands and lowlands of Arad and Bihor. In addition to peasant coats, the sheepskin coats were specific to cold seasons and representative items: people were identifying each other at trade markets, the most important places of local socializing, by these clothing items. For the habitants of Criş County, the differences from “cohăneşti” sheepskin coats (specific to the Vaşcău region) and “binşeneşti” (Beiuş region) were easily recognized, as well as those named “poienăreşti” or “de Huedin”; all of these types, as well as the Hungarian sheepskin coats, are well represented in our collections.
Interior design textiles with a double function: utilitarian and decorative, are characterized, at least the Romanian ones, by a great chromatic unity: white, red and black – very obvious on those from hemp linen (table clothes, towels, pillow clothes). The wool textiles divide into two main versions: those vividly colored from Crişul Alb, and those in black and white, as the carpets from Beiuş Region.
The icons and cult objects collection holds a few hundred icons painted on glass from famous Transylvanian centers (Nicula, Maierii Albei Iulii, Făgăraş), folk style and cheap, they were easily encountered in every house from Criş County till the modifications imposed by the communist period, or painted on wood, from the dowry of old churches, some of them are creations of famous painters, visitors from Romanian Country.
The painted eggs complete the treasure – testimony of countryside life and tradition from our regions and references to the Easter customs that still preserve the importance of painted eggs following some special techniques and traditional motives.
In other words, it is a consistent and representative ethnography and popular arts collection, well preserved and valued in the basic exhibition of the department or in the temporary exhibitions.